Everton’s draw with Blackburn Rovers on Saturday marked another disappointing home result for David Moyes’ side, a third Goodison Park draw and, after earlier defeats to Queens Park Rangers and Bolton Wanderers, another relegation struggler who has left the blue half of Merseyside with at least a point.
It is a pattern that began at the start of the season with a loss to QPR and has continued ever since. Only three of Everton’s 11 home matches have brought victory – over Wigan Athletic, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Swansea City, the same amount as struggling Blackburn and Wolves – while three draws takes Everton’s home total to 12 points, two fewer than they have racked up on their travels, and it is at home where Everton’s paltry attacking nous is most devastatingly felt.
In front of a baying crowd the onus is on Everton to attack from the off, to imprint their game on the opposition and force the visitors back. That rarely happens. The second-half against Blackburn saw Everton, a fortuitous goal up, rarely commit players forward. Instead, the midfield axis of Marouane Fellaini and Darron Gibson sat deep in front of the centre-backs, John Heitinga and the impressive Shane Duffy, and left the wingers and attacking midfielder to support the lone striker. It was support in name only. First Louis Saha and then Victor Anichebe was left isolated, unable to retain the ball against two burly Rovers centre-backs, and Blackburn’s attack just kept coming. An equalising goal was inevitable. The lucky way it arrived, with first Tim Howard and then Tim Cahill failing to clear, is irrelevant.
Moyes’ lack of forward power is well-documented and bears no repeating. But the manager has not had enough of a return from the players he does have available, and confirmed as much with his post-Blackburn comments. Cahill’s first goal in over a year is a start but Saha has not scored in the league since October, and with each passing goalless game it becomes less likely the Frenchman’s contract is extended when it expires this summer. The success of Anichebe as a substitute against West Bromwich Albion and Aston Villa was not replicated from a starting berth, while the brief impact of Landon Donovan’s loan spell may be wasted in a wide role as Everton struggle at centre-forward. As it stands and the goals fail to flow, Everton remain in danger of being dragged into a relegation battle.
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